Friday, May 16, 2008

Two for the road

Date: May 15
Mileage: 42.1
May mileage: 542.8
Temperature: 51

Today was a productive day ... productive in that I didn't get a long ride in, but at least my cats won't starve. The consolation prize is that my fishing trip for tomorrow was cancelled due to terrible weather on the forecast, so there may be a cycling window in there. A wet, cold window.

The two hours I spent riding the Dredge Lake trails was full of strange weather windows. Cloudbursts moved through, almost perfectly synchronized, every 20 minutes. For five minutes the rain would come down in unbroken straight lines, and then start to taper off just as a clear patch rolled in behind the storm. For about one minute it would be sunny and raining, and then the sun would take over and suck back the moisture from the ground in billowing puffs of steam. It couldn't have even been that warm, but buried as I was in rain layers, the aftermath made the glacier moraine feel like a tropical rainforest. Then the cold would come back, then the rain. Repeat.

I finally took my road bike back into Glacier Cycles to be fixed. True to my avoidance tendencies, I never even looked at it again after I vowed not to. The same guy who sold me the shifter cable two weeks ago was there when I walked in. So not only did I have to own up to the shame of not being able to fix a shifter cable, but I had to admit that I had deliberately held onto the bike and didn't use it for as long as it would have taken to move up through their repair backlog. The owner, Dennis, was there and took a few minutes to assess the damage. I braced myself for a grim diagnosis. Many would expect a bike shop proprietor to point out every little flaw in a machine in hopes of making a big sale. But Dennis is a really nice guy, and he only recommended replacing the stuff that was truly terminal. He prescribed a new chain, new cables, new derailleur pulley wheels and a new cassette. The chain and cassette were so bad that I likely wouldn't have been able to adjust the cable to shift smoothly even if I had all the patience in the world (which, obviously, I don't.) Dennis congratulated me on finishing the Iditarod Invitational and complimented me on an article I wrote for the Juneau Empire about it. Then the mechanic rushed my bike to the front of the line and finished it up today ... even though their sign out front still puts the backlog at a week and a half. Who'd have known? ... there really are perks to being an Iditaveteran.

So I took Roadie out for an evening spin after I picked it up. I've become so accustomed to my mountain biking habits that I momentarily forgot which bike I was on and jumped up on a gravel embankment. The resulting spinout startled me so much that I nearly endoed the thing. But it's nice to have my bike back and working.


  1. I love your blog, and read it everyday, but you probably just pissed off everyone of Dennis's customers that you skipped ahead of!

  2. Don't worry, it was Dennis that made the choice to work on your bike ahead of others that were in line. Just remember it's a road bike and everything will be sweet while riding it. Have fun.

    Lazy Lowrydr

  3. "The resulting spinout startled me so much that I nearly endoed the thing." - oops!!!

    Well glad you didn't come a cropper. As for the rain forest ride, the picture is quite sweet. I wish I could say that 42 miles is a slow short day!!

  4. does that mean you got rid of suki and izumi?

  5. Hi Jill,

    I've been reading your blog for some time. I havent bothered with my mountain bike in YEARS but your blog has provided the needed inspiration. Even at that, i was never a "mountain biker". Do you have any advice for a fledgling biker like myself?

  6. Anon1 - hope I didn't sound too arrogant with this post. I didn't ask for special treatment and didn't expect any. I even said "Keep it as long as you need to; it's not like I'm riding it." But those repairs are pretty simple to make if you have tools and you're not completely incompetent like I am. I bet the mechanic only spent a half hour working on it, if that. It may have been easier for them to just push it through than move it to the back of the pile.

    Glacier Cycles is great. They basically have a monopoly on the bike business in Juneau, and still they offer good service and reasonable prices. Can't beat that.

    Geoff ... I can only dream. No, I just finally made it to the store to buy those poor starving felines some food. I think they were getting sick of the goldfish crackers I was putting in their bowls.

    Anon3 ... thanks. In all honesty I still feel like a beginning mountain biker myself. But the best advice I've been given and can really give is "ride your bike." The rest falls into place, slowly. :-)

  7. and for some city riding



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